A global pandemic is an unprecedented challenge not only for your business, but also your employees.

In times of crisis, no business is immune to drastic changes in demand or sudden mandates that affect our way of life. Employees may need to shift roles to improve store cleanliness and managers may need to review priorities to ensure the health of their team. When we are faced with unpredictable challenges, it is important to have a business strategy. This isn’t just important for margins and overall business performance, but also for your workforce that helps meet your business goals.

Now more than ever, the global economy is shrouded in uncertainty, and as such, your c-store employees are more essential than ever. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, fuel retail stations and food and beverage retailers have been deemed as an “essential critical infrastructure workforce,” during this global COVID-19 pandemic (NACS).

A global pandemic is an unprecedented challenge not only for your business, but also your employees. As a key business tasked with the important role of supporting the community, it is important to optimize your workforce to keep the health and safety of your employees top of mind and to better serve your customers who need you at this time.

Optimizing Your Workforce Operation

What does a typical workday look like for your c-store employees? Are there extra cleaning and sanitizing measures in place for employees and customers? Are there new tasks that are in place to maximize safety?Understanding your employees’ work patterns, schedules, and customer service needs will help you identify all the areas that can be optimized and improved with the right technology.

#1 Reduce the burden of routine tasks.

Many employees spend a lot of time on routine, low-value tasks. Whether it’s a c-store manager revising a weekly staffing schedule or an employee manually entering competitor and other pricing data into a spreadsheet, many of these tasks can be automated to reduce employee burden. Instead of spending the effort on those tasks, a manager can be sure employees devote more time on stocking products in high demand or sanitizing high traffic areas. At the same time, employees can focus on providing optimal customer service with an influx of visitors looking for key items.

#2 Streamline processes for greater efficiency.

By identifying a routine task that can be automated, you can streamline operations and improve efficiencies. With our scheduling example, you can simplify the process with the help of an automated workforce solution that will enable team members to input schedule requests and changes on their own.

Human resources tasks aside, you need connectivity that a manual system can’t provide. Choose a unified enterprise solution that will connect your employees with the processes they manage or contribute to. Connectivity among individual stores, the back office, and the headquarters will simplify communication and collaboration throughout your operations.

In addition, if you don’t have an HR team or the team is at capacity, many solution providers offer managed services. This allows your team to offload day-to-day management so they can focus on your customers and more strategic priorities.

#3 Provide mobility and flexibility to your staff.

To keep employees engaged, especially in times of uncertainty, provide mobile devices and apps to increase productivity. Enable staff to carry out their work seamlessly, whether they are inside or outside the store. Employees should be able to have answers at their fingertips, with full access to ERP and workforce management solutions, and seamlessly connect with other team members or the main office.

#4 Equip your staff with data-driven analytics for optimal decision making.

Your organization’s ability to resolve customer complaints and promptly address sales-related and other issues directly impacts your revenue. St. Romain Oil, a convenience-store and wholesale company based in Louisiana, learned this firsthand when it experienced shrinkage in its foodservice that affected its profitability. Its old system wasn’t able to leverage all the transaction data collected to analyze the shrinkage.

After St. Romain Oil switched to PDI’s end-to-end enterprise solution with robust analytics, it discovered the root cause of the problem. Not enough employees worked during busy times to maximize sales in foodservice. Data-driven analytics helped the company improve scheduling and staffing to reduce shrinkage by 33 percent without increasing the headcount. In addition to solving the issue, the company reduced its labor costs by 8 percent.

Don’t Sacrifice Profitability

As an essential c-store operator in times of crisis, not only are you selling gas and food, you’re selling convenience. You need good employees to provide efficient, fast, and friendly customer service. The best way to address economic uncertainty and decrease turnover is by optimizing your current workforce. Leveraging the latest ERP technology and workforce management solutions can help you attain the highest level of customer service without increasing your labor budget or sacrificing your profitability.

Did You Know: Your Source for PDI News provided by PDI, the leader in enterprise management software for the convenience retail and petroleum wholesale markets.